On Sri Lanka,
Belated EU and Obama Moves, China Pushes Back, Press Statement
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
May 13 -- With the last hospital in the so-called Safe Zone in Sri
Lanka having been bombed by the government, it emerged Wednesday at
midday that the European Union members of the UN Security Council are
belatedly seeking formal Council action. French Ambassador
Jean-Maurice Ripert told the Press that a draft Presidential
Statement had been tabled, which would “of course” condemn the
Tamil Tigers, but also call on the government to stop bombing, and
support Secretary General Ban Ki-moon going to Sri Lanka “as soon
Press asked if France and the EU are seeking to put Sri Lanka on the
Council's agenda via a procedural vote.. Ripert replied that he is
“not interested in procedure.” But the lead political advisor of
a Permanent Five member opposed to Sri Lanka being on the agenda told
Inner City Press that it is his country's position that with it still
off the agenda, no meeting in the Chamber is possible, and therefore
no Presidential Statement can be adopted. His country is interested
in procedure, even if Ripert is not.
belatedly, Obama will speak on Sri Lanka this afternoon, and in wake
of Time Magazine writing that he is failing the Sri Lanka test.
At UN, the EU is all fired up about Sri Lanka
To put Sri
Lanka on the Council's agenda would require nine affirmative votes.
Four members are known to be adamantly opposed to Sri Lanka being
addressed in the Council: China, Russia, Viet Nam and Libya (which is
moving to give Sri Lanka a $500 million loan while its $1.9 billion
loan application remains delayed at the International Monetary Fund).
Turkey -- due to its PKK issues, it predicted to abstain.
Ambassador on Tuesday night told Inner City Press his country will
not oppose including Sri Lanka on the Council's agenda. Burkina Faso
is thought likely to go along with the West, as it did on Zimbabwe.
Would Japan, some are asking, give the civilians the kiss of death by
If Sri Lanka
remains not on the Council's agenda, a mere press statement is
predicted for later today at the UN. Watch this space.
of 3:39 p.m. -- Japan's Ambassador Takasu came out of the Council,
Inner City Press asked him, "Would Japan vote in favor of putting Sri
Lanka on the Council's agenda?" Takasu to his credit stopped to answer,
but gesturing back at the Council said, "That is not
what is being discussed." What's not what was being asked...
p.m. -- while the Council members have not yet reached the Sri Lanka
discussion -- they are talking about the UN's Gaza report -- well
placed Council sources tell Inner City Press that the gambit is to
put Sri Lanka under the pre-existing Council agenda item “Protection
of Civilians in Armed Conflict.” Talk about a one-off...
p.m. -- the Council took a break for “elements” about Sri Lanka
to be typed up, whether to be incorporated into Presidential
Statement or a mere press statement. Inner City Press asked Vitaly
Churkin of Russia, this month's Council president, “What about Sri
Lanka?” “We're discussing that,” he said. He spoke only about
Gaza, about which Inner City Press will publish a story later.
p.m. -- One Council Permanent Representative has emerged and told the
Press, it will be only a press statement. The Chinese did the fight
and the others backed down.
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UUN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
Ban Ki-moon is working on his issues as a trip to Manama, Bahrain,
after a news-less trip to Malta, the killing of civilians accelerates
in Sri Lanka. On Friday
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire, did not respond to the
invitation to visit Sri Lanka, or the accelerating rate of civilians
death over the weekend, during which no statement issued about Sri
Lanka. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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